The Gold Medal Profile for Sport Psychology (GMP-SP) is a comprehensive, evidence-informed framework integrating mental performance competencies underpinning the athletic performances of Canadian athletes capable of stepping onto the Para/Olympic Podium. The GMP-SP was established to guide Mental Performance Consultants (MPCs) and National Sport Organizations (NSOs) in their design, delivery, tracking, and evaluation of mental skills programs in the Canadian high performance sport system. A Participatory Action Research approach involving a 2-year cyclical process of planning, action, reflection, and evaluation informed the collaborative work of six experienced Canadian MPCs (four men, two women). The group, whose lived experience was integral to the relevance and impact of the inquiry collectively had over 125 years of experience conducting research and consulting in high performance sport. A review of the scientific literature combined with the experts’ professional practice led to the creation of the GMP-SP, which includes 11 mental performance competencies grouped under three broad categories: (a) fundamental competencies (motivation, confidence, resilience), (b) self-regulation competencies (self-awareness, stress management, emotion, and arousal regulation, attentional control), and (c) interpersonal competencies (athlete-coach relationship, leadership, teamwork, communication). Mental health was also included as an overarching construct influencing the achievement of mental and athletic performance. The GMP-SP fulfills an important gap given the current lack of models, methods, and tools to guide the operationalization of mental performance systems in high performance sport that include both intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies.
Many international scholars have delivered scientific articles and reports on mental performance competencies (e.g., characteristics, states, skills) associated with peak, expert, or Olympic/Paralympic performance (e.g., Anderson et al., 2014; Banack et al., 2011; Durand-Bush et al., 2001; Durand-Bush & Salmela, 2002; Fletcher & Sarkar, 2012; Gardner & Moore, 2007; Gould et al., 2002; Gould & Maynard, 2009; Jones, 2002; Jordet, 2015; Krane & Williams, 2015; MacNamara et al., 2010; Mitić et al., 2021; Orlick & Partington, 1988; Swann et al., 2017). The aforementioned contributions contain valuable information that can be used to tailor the development and maintenance of athletes’ mental performance for podium success. Competencies reported in these articles include self-confidence, motivation, commitment, attention regulation, arousal regulation, planning, evaluation, emotion regulation, stress management, resilience, mental toughness, coping, goal-setting, imagery, and self-talk. Overall, the literature demonstrates that athletes require “a highly developed ability to identify and then self-regulate a range of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral factors relevant to the individual athlete and the requirements of the competition environment” (Anderson et al., 2014, p. 331). This suggests psychological skills and self-regulation processes are necessary to successfully perform and adapt to sport environments and should be integrated into mental performance models.
Increasing interest in mental performance and mental health in the HP domain supported the need to develop a comprehensive and accessible framework for sport stakeholders. Although the GMP-SP steers practitioners toward 11 mental performance competencies that have been empirically linked to high level performance, more work is warranted to support the design, delivery, and tracking of sport- and context-specific interventions. To make HP sport experiences safe, inclusive, and fulfilling, resources dedicated to the training of GMP-SP competencies is recommended. By reaching their full psychological potential, athletes increase the likelihood of achieving success in HP sport and building a strong foundation for realizing other feats in society.